Learn The Basics
1. What is the Higg Product Module?
The Higg Product Module is a product assessment tool that uses a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach to measure the cradle-to-grave environmental impacts of apparel, footwear, home textiles, and other consumer goods products, such as outdoor equipment and toys. The Product Module, includes a product’s lifecycle stages of manufacturing, including the impacts of material manufacturing, product distribution, use, and end of use.
Companies can use the Higg product tool to:
- Develop products with a lower environmental footprint.
- Consider circular strategies that prolong the life of products.
- Prepare for anticipated sustainability regulation.
- Assess your Scope 3 category emissions.
- Communicate environmental impacts publicly
The Product Module can be accessed and used year-round and has no submission cadences. There are currently no Sustainable Apparel Coalition member adoption requirements in place for the Higg Product Module.
2. What does the Higg Product Module measure?
The Product Module calculates the environmental impacts of a product’s lifecycle, from manufacturing, including the impacts of material manufacturing to end of use. The assessment includes the impacts of all materials used in a product, adjusted to the specific amounts of each material used, the impacts from finished goods manufacturing processes, and the impacts associated with distribution, use, and end of use. Users can create and adjust a Bill of Materials using materials, trims, and packaging pulled from the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) and can also select and adjust the finished goods manufacturing processes to analyze factors affecting environmental impact. For distribution, use, and end of use, users can select the defaults provided by the Higg Product Module or input their own data for more representative environmental impact results.
The Product Module shares the same impact categories as the MSI and measures environmental impact in five areas:
- Global warming
- Eutrophication (nutrient pollution in water)
- Water scarcity
- Abiotic resource depletion, fossil fuels
In addition, the Product Module reports the following inventory metrics:
- Biogenic carbon content
- Water consumption
3. Who should use the Higg Product Module?
The Higg Product Module is designed for brands and manufacturers to assess the impacts of the products they design, manufacture, and sell. The outputs from the Product Module are intended to be shared with retailers and consumers to inform them about the environmental impacts of products.
4. What are the benefits of using the Higg Product Module?
The Product Module provides value and insights in the following ways:
- Offers a scalable approach to measure the environmental impacts of a product portfolio across the entire value chain.
- Enables rapid, actionable learning through identification of impact causes and improvement opportunities, including material selection, material utilization efficiency, and finished goods manufacturing processes.
- Provides a common language based on consistent data and assessment frameworks to encourage collaborative goal setting and industry-wide improvement.
- Creates a structure for consistent consumer-facing communications around product environmental footprints, enabling consumers to make confident choices when considering their environmental footprints.
- Catalyzes sustainability education and provides clear guidance for decision-making, driving improved environmental performance.
5. What else should I know about the Higg Product Module?
The Product Module allows for a range of functionalities, allowing users to make informed choices about products, including:
- Side-by-side product comparisons, with the ability to see where impacts are coming from.
- Ability to create a Bill of Materials and see the effects of switching materials and material amounts
- Ability to add processing details and see the effects of different manufacturing decisions in product assembly
- Ability to identify retail and online distribution impacts, including inbound and outbound transportation
- Visualize environmental impacts of alternative care such as machine wash at cooler temperature or line drying
- Ability to include repairability attributes and determine the durability of a product based on performance testing data
- Access to source and methodology information
- Ability to create and download a product datasheet that summarizes the product processes and impacts for brands, retailers, and customers
- Excel data exports for product impacts
What to Prepare
6. How long will it take to assess a product with the Higg Product Module?
The time required to assess a product with the Product Module will depend on the complexity of the product’s Bill of Materials, the complexity of the Finished Goods Manufacturing processes, and the amount of different packaging materials for online and retail sales. The sections Logistics, Retail, Product Care, and End of Use have defaults that facilitate the assessment.
The time required will also depend on what information you have already collected and prepared, such as customized materials in the MSI. The times given below assume that customized materials have already been made in the MSI. The time estimates for making these materials can be found in the Higg MSI How to Higg. Users who have access to the information required to assess a product will find that it takes only 10 to 30 minutes per product; however, the time to collect the needed information may take significantly longer.
|Simple Bill of Materials with Simple Manufacturing||Single material t-shirt with cut & sew only||10 minutes|
|Complex Bill of Materials with Simple Manufacturing||A jacket with several different materials and multiple trims. Assembled using sewing and gluing.||20 minutes|
|Simple Bill of Materials with Complex Manufacturing||Denim jeans with a single main material and a few trim components. In addition to assembly, there are garment washes and other finishing processes applied.||20 minutes|
|Complex Bill of Materials with Complex Manufacturing||A pair of running shoes with multiple materials, components, and trims. Many pre-assembly and assembly processes.||30 minutes|
7. Who should my team engage in using the Higg Product Module?
The information required to complete a Higg Product Module assessment may require you to work with different teams.
The first step is to fill in the Overview Info, which requires product name, type and category, as well as distribution information. To complete distribution information, brands can utilize the default values provided, or acquire data from inventory/sales reports.
The most important element is to have the right materials assessed in the Higg MSI, which will require working with internal and external resources. In order to complete the Bill of Materials, a brand will need to engage their product development team and/or sourcing and production teams to receive a full Bill of Materials with the amounts of each material that are needed to make a product. If these internal teams do not have access to the product Bill of Materials, it will be necessary to reach out to the finished goods manufacturer for assistance in gathering this information.
To complete the Finished Goods Manufacturing section, brands will likely require assistance from their finished goods manufacturers to gather the required information. For instance, when making an apparel product, it will be important to know the amount of cutting and sewing that takes place. Some of this information may also be available from internal product development teams, such as pattern makers who may be able to generate this information. Other product assembly and finishing processes may be listed in product tech packs, which the product development team can assist with.
To complete the Packaging, Logistics, and Retail sections, brands can utilize the default values provided, or work with the sales and sourcing teams.
To complete the Product Care, End of Use, and Duration of Service sections, brands can use the default values provided or work with their product development teams for more detailed information. This includes care instructions, design for repair, and product intrinsic quality. Some of this information may also be available on the product spec sheets.
8. How can I prepare to use the Higg Product Module?
The Step by Step Instructions outline the key functions and workflow of the Product Module. The Content Guidance provides an overview of how to set up and complete product assessments. Reviewing the Content Guidance is critical in ensuring that all products are created in a consistent manner, enabling benchmarks and product claims.
Unlike the MSI, it is not possible to complete a Product Module assessment without having access to key primary information, notably the Bill of Materials and the Finished Goods Manufacturing processes.